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Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

Last week, a friend of mine in California challenged me to post a nature photo every day for seven days on Facebook.  I had participated in one of these challenges nine months before, posting mostly photos from the countryside.  This time, I decided to acknowledge the gifts that Mother Nature keeps surprising me with in my rooftop terrace garden.

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African tulip tree seen from my terrace, July 6, 2016

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Neoscona Oaxacensis orb weaver spider, Sept. 9, 2016

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Night Blooming Cereus early morning, July 21, 2016

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Lesser Goldfinch (I think) on the terrace chain link fence, Nov. 12, 2016

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Io moth caterpillar munching on plumeria leaf, Oct. 31, 2016

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Hibiscus flower taken Oct. 19, 2016

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Agave and Stapelia gigantia early evening, Oct. 24, 2016

And, in the spirit of the season, they are my gifts to you.  Hope you like!

 

 

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After the wretched week that was (RIP Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell, not to mention the USA elections), reviewing my Día de Muerto photos from Teotitlán del Valle was the ideal tonic.

On November 1, as I previously mentioned, after strolling and sitting and contemplating and conversing our way through the panteón in Tlacolula de Matamoros, we drove to the home of friends, Zacarias Ruiz and Emilia Gonzalez, in Teotitlán.  Arriving at 3:00 PM, we were just in time to join the family and other guests, as Zac gave words of welcome to the difuntos, who had also just made their appearance.

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Our pan de muerto and mezcal joined the other offerings on the altar to provide nourishment to the departed while we, the living, sat down at the long table for a little cervesa, mezcal, and more than a few of the 500+ tamales Emilia had made.  After lots of eating and conversation, we walked across the courtyard to give our regards to Antonio Ruiz (weaver of one of my treasured rugs), wife Claudia, and their children (the beautiful Beatriz and her lively brothers, Diego and Antonito), and to see Antonio’s new showroom (Chris has a photo in his Familia blog post) and their altar.

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Invited to return to the Ruiz home the following day for Emilia’s famous mole negro, we also stopped at the village panteón to listen for the wind that signals the departure of the difuntos at 3:00 PM on November 2.

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We also stopped to pay our respects at the grave of Arnulfo Mendoza, though it took a little searching to find it, as the large tree that stood next to it had fallen, leaving only a stump.

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Both days, the drive back to the city was filled with the warmth, peace, and joy that Teotitlán del Valle always seems to impart.

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Under the strong and comforting gaze of Picacho, who could ask for a better resting place.

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The dead don’t arrive in the valley of Oaxaca all at once.  The cosmic difunto air traffic controller has scheduled their arrival at different times on different days, from October 31 through November 3, to avoid celestial congestion.

Santa María Atzompa’s departed are among the first to return, arriving on the night of October 31.  Flower and food vendors line the walkway leading to the panteón as grandparents, parents, teens, and small children stream in with arms full of flowers, candles, buckets, and brooms.  Because is built on a slope and there are almost no paths, footing can be treacherous, especially in the dark when only candles on the graves light the way.  At one time, perhaps tombs were positioned on a grid, but no more and it seems to be filled to capacity.  I guess that’s why one side of the panteón has been opened up (one of the walls removed), the field beyond leveled, and a new wall around the field, connected to the old, constructed.  (You can click on images for a larger view.)

On November 1, in the early afternoon, it has become our custom to visit the cemetery in Tlacolula de Matamoros, before bringing pan de muerto and mezcal to the home of friends in Teotitlán del Valle.  In contrast to the higgledy-piggledy of Atzompa, the panteón in Tlacolula emanates a sense of order and serenity.  I wonder, could the tranquility comes from the 500 year old ahuehuete trees (hijos of el Tule, we were told) that reign over the tombs of the departed and make for an amazing play of light and shadow throughout?

On November 2, we returned to Teotitlán, but I will save that for another blog post.  However, that was not the end of the road.  In the category of, no rest for the living, the following day we drove south to San Antonino Castillo Velasco.  This is the village known for their beautiful flowers and exquisite floral embroidery.  And, it is said that because the living are so busy providing flowers to other parts of the valley, the departed wait until November 3 to return. (See the book, Day of the Dead: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca by Shawn D. Haley and Curt Fukuda.)  I’m sure, like we, the difuntos are dazzled by the intricacy of floral designs that family members have created to decorate their tombs in welcome.

Octavio Paz writes in The Labyrinth of Solitude, “Life extended into death, and vice-versa.  Death was not the natural end of life but one phase of an infinite cycle.”

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Marigolds have begun appearing in the city.  The yellow of this flor de muertos (flower of the dead) will help guide the difuntos (deceased) home to feast with their families during the upcoming Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. Known as cempazuchil (also spelled cempasúchitl), flower pots and/or vases of marigolds may find their way onto ofrendas (the offerings on home altars for the difuntos).  Some scatter the petals on their muertos altar, others in a trail leading from the street into the house and up to the ofrenda.

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Next week, seasonal Day of the Dead markets will spring up and shopping will go into high gear.  Needless to say, I will join in buying the traditional fruits, nuts, flowers, and sugar skulls to place on my ofrenda.  And, along with friends, I will pay my respects to the difuntos of friends in Teotitlán del Valle.  It’s a special time of year in Oaxaca.

Once a librarian, always a librarian, thus a few resources about Day of the Dead:

A brief note:  Celebrations vary throughout Mexico and, even in the valley of Oaxaca, traditions differ from village to village, but the above articles will give you a general idea.  You can also click HERE for my Día de Muertos blog posts from previous years.

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Yesterday morning, as I made the rounds bidding each of my plants a “muy buenos días,” peeking out from the bottom of one of my garden pots…

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A star looked up and wished me a very good morning.

A Quaqua mammillaris flower for Cee’s photo challenge.

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Rainy season means wind, rain, and fallen Flor de Mayo flower petals.  What to do?

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Nothing like the scent of Plumeria to perfume the room.

My entry in Cee’s photo challenge.

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This year’s “like it used to be” rainy season has brought Morning Glories climbing their way to my doorstep and adding a little color to an otherwise grey morning.

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Obviously, I’m not the only one who enjoys the green of their heart-shaped leaves.

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This morning I was greeted by several flowers on my night blooming cereus, with one acting as a rich playground and dining room for a guest in the garden — a very welcome honey bee.

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I have no idea how long she had wiggled and wallowed before I saw her.  I stood mesmerized for a minute or two before running into my apartment to get a camera.

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I continued to be intrigued by her industry and pleasure for another five (plus) minutes before returning inside — letting her continue in privacy, while I turned to my morning cup of coffee and bowl of cereal.

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She may have been nourishing her body, but she was also nourishing my soul.

My entry in Cee’s photo challenge.

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I can’t resist.  It’s another day and another night blooming cereus flower greeted the dawn.  Ready for her close-up, she insisted on a profile…

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¡Muy buenos días a todos!

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A couple of mornings ago, as I made my terrace rounds wishing my plants a “muy buenos días,” I found my cereus had bloomed during the night.  A gift from the garden…

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By noon it was a shriveled skeleton of itself.  The flower may have been fleeting, but it was a lasting gift of beauty amid the unrelenting, energy-sapping heat and the daily ordeal of navigating Oaxaca’s blockades, marches, and a zócalo covered in tents.  In the two days since, my step has been a little lighter and my tolerance to life’s circumstantial complexities a little higher.

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This morning, I awoke to the familiar, if startling, sounds of cohetes (rockets).  Oh right, it’s Día de la Santa Cruz (Day of the Holy Cross).  Alas, no pilgrimage hike up Cerro Picacho for us this year; we are still in recovery from our island adventure AND, more importantly, even at 7:30 AM, it is too darn hot!  Have I mentioned Oaxaca has been experiencing 90º – 96º F temperatures for the past month?  That’s 10º F above average.  Exhausting it is and sweltering we are.

However, before the sun was directly overhead, I returned to Benito Juárez mercado hoping my coffee guy would be there.  He wasn’t, but many of the stalls had beautifully decorated alters, fragrant with the sweet scent of flor de mayo (plumeria) blossoms.

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In Mexico, it is also Día del Albañil, the feast day of the stonemason/bricklayer/builder because, according to this article (en español):

Before the Conquest, the indigenous Mesoamerican related to the cross with the cardinal directions of the Indian cosmography north, south, east, west and central graphically formed the cross.

With the arrival of the Spaniards, this evocation was eradicated and replaced by religious symbolism of the Holy Cross.

Since then the celebration of this feast with the construction of houses, churches, monasteries, and other buildings with Indian labor was established.

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However, Sebastián and Leonardo continued working on my new counter.  And, yes, there will be tile!

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How could I have missed three flowers on my night blooming cereus a few nights ago???  I don’t know, but I did.  However, yesterday afternoon…

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My opuntia microdasys surprised and delighted me!

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As I left my apartment Friday morning, the sky was blue, the air was brisk and shadows played tag with the ceiba.

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Early mornings in March are magical.

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Muchisimas gracias to all my wonderful blog readers — for reading, for commenting, for sharing, for the opportunity to meet some of you, and for inspiring me to continue.  A look back at Oaxaca scenes that never made it into the blog…

January – Although spring was a couple of months away, the Primavera (Tabebuia chrysotricha) was already in bloom.

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February – Cattle car on the carretera outside Tlacolula de Matamoros on Sunday market day.

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March – A quiet morning on Monte Albán.

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April – Decorating with agave flowers on Easter Sunday in Mitla.

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May – Police temporarily remove and replace Sección 22 on the zócalo.

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June – Though we arrived hours early for a festival in San Juan Guelavía, the sacred and profane were already present.

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July – A favorite view from my terrace, the African tulip trees in full bloom.

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August – At Casa Colonial the water lilies and hyacinths were stunning.

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September – Cochineal (the “perfect red” dye) exhibition at Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca (MACO).

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October – Returning from Teotitlán de Valle one morning, a globo was landing near San Mateo Macuilxochitl.

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November – On the way to Mercado Hidalgo in Colonia Reforma to buy Thanksgiving groceries, Our Lady of the Wires (?).

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December – Rooftop still life in El Centro.

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A long, strange, and fascinating trip it continues to be.  As another song says, Próspero año y felicidad!

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Young and old, male and female…

it’s a family affair, labor of love…

as the tombs of San Antonino Castillo Velasco are painstakingly decorated on November 3.

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